Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day - A Brief History

With Father's Day upon us it is important for fathers to remember how we, as an inferior societal subculture to mothers, got where we are. After all, Father's Day did not get off the ground until well after Mother's Day was established in the United States.

Father's Day unofficially began in 1922 by a group of men in Topeka, Kansas, fathers all, who desperately needed a new grill. Such an unlikely scenario, conceived over a jug of hooch, actually worked, and the very grill is still in use today by the grandson of one of the Father's Day founding fathers, though it is in a state of serious disrepair.

The Father's Day concept spread across the mid-West and finally became a loosely adopted holiday across most of the U.S., as men everywhere were clamoring for an excuse to upgrade their barbecues annually.

During the 1950s Father's Day, still not a national holiday, was hijacked by the tie industry, and for more than 40 years the necktie reigned supreme as the go-to Father's Day gifts until, thanks to discount retailers such as Wal-Mart and Fred Meyer, grills began making a comeback in the mid-1990's.

Father's Day became official in 1972, with a proclamation by President Richard Nixon, who during his re-election campaign promised "a grill in every garage." Though Father's Day became official, the promise was twisted by savvy retailers who advertised in the Sunday supplements "a tie around every neck."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I don’t fly much anymore. In fact, until last week it’s been almost two years. I don’t have anywhere to go anymore.

Back when I kept a carry-on bag perpetually packed I would complain about airport parking, flight delays, gate changes and receiving too few mushrooms with my steak and potatoes. I realize now how petty my complaints were. Petty, I know. Petty.

Last week my complaint had less to do with the airlines and the TSA and more to do with no longer enjoying platinum status. I was forbidden to use the platinum screening lane at SeaTac. I was unable to board early. There was no first class upgrade waiting for me at the gate. No one offered to take my jacket upon boarding. During the flight I had a small cup of juice and the tiniest pack of peanuts imaginable, and I had to wait a long time for it. I had a tiny square napkin instead of a hot towel and lemon water.

In a previous career when someone made a huge mistake (like cutting a live fiber optic cable by mistake), instead of harsh disciplinary measures the mistake-maker was required to write a “lessons learned” report and share it with the team.

Here is my Lesson Learned: complaints are relative. Navigate the small speedbumps with patience and a smile. Those things which I complain about today might be insignificant in another set of circumstances.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Reply

A reply to an email query for 150 take-out grilled chicken salads:

We provide a very exclusive product marketed to the upper classes, so I want to make sure you are aware of the quality of what we do. We cater only to the highest, most specialized palates.

We raise our own chickens at our Lake Pontarayne poultry farm in Washington State. These are Idaho Gerbers, the Boorman breed with the yellow top feathers and the extra toe, free range chickens known for their succulent taste, exceptional texture and superior fighting ability. Only three farms in the United States raise the Idaho Boorman Gerbers. The other two are currently under investigation by the US Department of Agriculture.

Each hen is cold-shocked, de-beaked and then hand-processed (we do not use illegals for our plucking, but only highly trained, college educated pheasantry artisans) and flown express to our local store where each grilled chicken salad plate is prepared to individual expectations and tastes. We have over 300 sauces to choose from, including Bison Berry Thrush and Nuthatch. Only the freshest Guatemalan avocados are used for our smesh, each gently roasted in a lemon curry for 40 minutes before basting in a peppercorn crabgrass marinade, which we pre-prepare with Grandpa Hobson’s #2 Kentucky Barrel Hooch-Flavored Whiskey, aged 18 years.

Our hens are charcoal-filtered for impurities before being dismembered and skewered. They are prepared over 800 degree coals in a brick oven custom designed for us by Martinique Boulaurde, the famous French chef and author of “Cooking Goat the Auxerre Way.” (He has a TV show, “I said Cake!” premièring August 13 on the FOOD Network.)

Each of our dishes is certified Kosher by Rabbi Ezekiel Daniel Hosea, of the Ark of the Covenant Synagogue in Charleston, West Virginia. A $15 kosher fee is added to the price of every dish. But the peace of mind you get with our Rabbinically approved culinary delights is worth its weight in bublik.

We plate our meals on Wodehouse Bone China, a superior plate endorsed by the Duchess of York and the National Basketball Association. This plate is similar to the plates used by President Obama at the White House, except the White House plates do not have a picture of a chicken on them. This is an exact replica of the plate on which Brussels sprouts were served by Jeeves to Bernard Wooster and Roderick Spode, the 7th Earl of Sidcup, at Totleigh Towers before the disaster at Shipley Hall. There is a courtesy deposit of $90 per plate (a $110 value!). Our customers may keep the plate or return it for the deposit. Deposits are issued by check and mailed within 90 days of the return of the Wodehouse Bone China plates, once each is certified to be in good condition. Credit is not provided for plates that are returned, damaged, chipped, drawn on with magic marker or otherwise vandalized or defaced in a manner inconsistent with the product’s manufacturer’s specifications. Questions about Wodehouse Bone China or its subsidiaries, Carl’s Cups & Company and Gunderson’s House of Veal, may be directed to Wodehouse, Consumer Division, Greenwich, England.

Grilled Chicken Salad $69
Kosher Fee $15
Take-Out Fee $10
Plating Fee $6
Internet Order Charge $2
Deposit on Bone China $90

Please let us know when you are ready to place your order. We will have Rabbi Hosea standing by.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Blast from the Past - 1984

Buck, Toast and Jelly.

I'd like to imagine these were carefree times. And in many respects they were.

But in the moment, here are three guys worried about doing well in school, agonizing over girlfriends, breaking in their drivers licences and imagining how, 27 years hence, life away from parents and school and lame part time jobs will be liberating and free.

The guy in the middle sees himself in his early 40's operating something akin to Rick's Cafe American in some exotic locale like Casablanca, chatting with the piano player, bribing local officials and dealing with the occasional ex-girlfriend who walks in the door with her husband and tells the piano player to "Play it, Sam."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


  • I was on my way to Spatula City and stopped in at Pistachio World. It's an amazing store, I am surprised I'd never shopped there before. It's about as big as a Wal-Mart and they have every variety of pistachio. I picked up ten pounds of peppered pistachios and they're awful.

  • When making sanwiches at home there is no substitute for homemade mayonnaise. Use a walnut oil to infuse the mayo with a deep and complex flavor, along with fresh egs and lemon juice. And don't keep the mayo more than a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. Unlike store-bought mayo, homemade tends to spoil.

  • When making potato salad there is no substitute for real mayonaise. Duke's.

  • The episodes featuring Uncle Arthur were among the best of the series. Who wouldn't want an uncle like Uncle Arthur? Bonus points if the episode was one in which Cousin Serena also guest-starred.

  • And speaking of television, "Black Adder" was a very funny show. I don't know too many people who have seen it. My 2009 Christmas season was finally complete when BBC America aired the "Black Adder Christmas Carol" on Christmas Eve. Missed it this past Christmas, and I am still not recovered.

  • Overheard today while standing in line at the bank: "I need to buy World of Warcraft but there's no money in my account."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Monday Cold with Jeff Bridges and Cocktail Umbrellas


It is not uncommon for me to stay up late and rise at 5 AM after four hours sleep. Of course the downside to that practice is the much needed evening nap of an hour or so.

When I try and go for a good eight hours rest, like last night, I am up and wide awake by 3 AM. All I can do is watch TV. As I dislike most TV, I seek out a movie to watch.

This morning, in addition to being wide awake at 0300, I found myself suffering a terrible cough and head cold. I ventured into the living room where I could sit up, which helped the cough, and turned on the TV. Do you remember back when we all thought TRON was cutting edge movie technology? And remember hanging out at the arcade with a pocket full of quarters, how cool that was? I had not seen the movie in maybe twenty years, around the last time I walked into an video game arcade with a pocketful of quarters. On viewing it at 4 AM this morning, TRON did not seem as cool and cutting edge as it had in 1982.

Now they are bringing back Jeff Bridges and the Troncycles for a sequel. I was thinking about this around 6:30 this morning, when I went back to bed, my stomach full of expectorants and decongestants.

I awoke later that usual and dragged myself to the breakfast table. My daughter, who had squeezed a pitcher of fresh OJ this morning from ten pounds of oranges, took notice of my cold and prepared for me the juice from half a grapefruit, freshly squeezed and poured up in a shot glass with a paper umbrella.


I am pleased to report that my cold is gone, and that I have seen Tron: Legacy, and found it better than the original.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Goodbye Old Friend

I said goodbye to my friend the other day. Strange how attached we become to our cars, particularly those that have been good to us, that have provided us with memories.

Several years ago we moved out of the city and bought a house in the burbs to raise our child. We were moving out when it occurred to me that I would have no way to get to work, as I had for several years enjoyed walking to work in downtown Seattle every day. My neighbor told me that he had just gotten a company car and was selling his little Geo, so I bought it for cash and his wife and I went down to the DMV and transferred the title. I drove that little green car until it would drive no more, rolling to a stop at my mechanic’s for the last time. Walt told me how many thousands of dollars it would cost me to get the Geo back on the road, when the blue book value was about $800. Next door, at the Ford dealership, a blue Mustang caught my eye. It had been ordered by someone whose financing fell through, and I bought it.

I tried to hide it from my wife, but that didn’t last long. I was in my driveway with my friend Matt when my wife came out and said, “Whose car is this?”

Shortly thereafter I got the Tahoe, which I drove to work every day. The Mustang stayed in the garage until the weekends. On Saturdays I would take her out and drive her around while I ran errands. I’d wash her and drive her to my standing Saturday night movie date with Mike.

Last summer Mike and I took the Mustang on a 4,000 mile road trip down the Pacific coast, across the desert to Texas, and around the Gulf of Mexico before heading north to South Carolina. I opened her up on the Pacific Coast Highway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and she handled like a dream. It was the best driving experience of my life, one I would heartily recommend.

Last Friday I began to cross an intersection near my home on a green light. I saw a truck barreling towards me and stopped my car, but he was going too fast to stop, and never braked. The 62-year-old driver of a purple Ford F-150 ran a red light going about 50 miles per hour in a 35 zone and plowed into the driver’s side of the Mustang before losing control, leaving the road, crossing the sidewalk through the landscaping of a shopping center before crashing into a tree. The force of the impact spun my car around and propelled me in the same direction he was travelling. I came to a stop 40 feet away.

I recall dialing 911 on my cell phone and pressing SEND, but never lifted the phone to my ear. Debris was everywhere. Despite a sore leg and hip, I was able to get out of my vehicle. I could see that the driver of the Ford truck was slumped over his steering wheel, immobile. I would leave his fate to others. The next few minutes are a blank, but then there were three police cars and an ambulance parked nearby. The EMT, I recall, was most annoying. I wanted him to go away. There was no way I was going anywhere in an ambulance. I was worried about my car.

The Mustang was bleeding heavily. There was radiator fluid everywhere. I picked up the grill off the street. The hood was hanging against the passenger side door. I noticed that the frame was bent about 30 degrees. There will be no repairing her.

The real tragedy is this: I found out the gentleman who hit me has passed away. I thank God that I am walking and breathing right now. My prayers and sympathies are with his family.

I had some great times in that car, many with my daughter, who patted me Friday afternoon and offered sympathy as only a child can. “You’ll get another car, Daddy, but I don’t think you’d like a truck. Maybe another green car like you had before.”

If anyone has a 1996 Geo Prism for sale, let me know. I'm buying.